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Motorstorm: Pacific Rift (PS3)

Motorstorm: Pacific Rift (PS3)

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Few games matched the success of the original Motorstorm when the Playstation 3 launched. The gaming public loved the high adrenaline racing thrills as well as the mass destruction and chaotic damage model. It wasn’t without flaws however as the loading times tested the patience of even the most laid back gamers. With Motorstorm: Pacific Rift can developer Evolution Studios push the boundaries further?

Let’s get this out of the way first, the first title was a fun game, with a wicked engine and modelling technology which ensured that the vehicles on mud and dirt handled just like you would expect in real life. When you were in control of one of the larger vehicles, the mud tracks left in its wake would even interfere  with the driving lines of the people behind.

Pacific Rift is set on an island and has a wider array of terrain to deal with. For a start, this time around there are masses of water in the environment which while slowing down the vehicles has the added benefit of rapidly cooling the engines. If you stop using the boost button in water then the engine will cool in just a few seconds. Additionally, using the boost button through the water will mean that the engine doesn’t overheat, leading to some mad, aqua based antics.

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Water also effects the handling of the vehicles, and the larger, heavier units have the easiest time, with the small bikes being the most troublesome. In deep sections of water, only the biggest rides can make it through safely, so extra care is needed.

Foliage has been overhauled and there is vegetation scattered throughout and some tracks, such as the farming course have devious sections requiring careful control. Once again the larger vehicles just plough over most vegetation, but a bike can easily get destroyed by hitting a tree full on.

Every track has the same alternative routes that were apparent in the original game, and they enhance the overall feeling of being in a real race as every vehicle will have a preferred route to take the lead. The alternative routes are very diverse with ledges galore as well as cliff sides that can interlink over each other.

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Some of the courses can also be very long, in excess of two minute laps in some cases which means there are many sections you will need to commit to memory to get the best corners. On some routes the first time you play will actually turn out to be a test run so you can work out what is coming up ahead. There are also the dangers of massive cliff drops and ledges which can seemingly appear from nowhere. The variety in track layout also means that repeated plays through alternative routes rarely become boring.

I think the Pacific Rift tracks are an improvement on the original however due to the nature of the location some of the tracks can be difficult due to the way they are marked, wandering off course is commonplace on the first run through and sometimes can be frustrating if a lead is lost due to poor marking. This isn’t a major issue, but I think this could have been improved by slightly better design implementation.

Another aspect of the game that has been improved over the original is the variety in vehicle type. The bigger vehicles are monstrous and can literally crush some of the smaller ones, but the handling is quite often so poor that some of the more technically difficult tracks are almost impossible to navigate unless you choose a mid sized unit. This whole concept of balancing the vehicle you choose based on handling or strength helps keep Motorstorm fresh as you judge the tactics you need to employ to win.

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So far its good, however there are some minor issues which could have been improved I feel with some more thought. You can unlock speed events for example by finishing some races under specific conditions which is a great idea to aid longevity, however when you take part in these speed races the checkpoint system is flawed. You only see the next checkpoint when you pass the current one and sometimes they are placed quite close and in difficult parts of the track, so you frequently have only milliseconds to react.

As well as the standard races and speed races you are given Eliminator events which stay true to "last one over the line gets kicked out". It works just like it sounds and is another game mode which will appeal to long time racers.

The control methodology is great and I wish more racing games used this simple, yet effective system. No one will have a problem learning some weird button functionality the developers tried (and failed) to incorporate.

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The presentation is just as polished as before and thankfully the crazy load times have been sorted. The game still takes a little while to load before a race, however when you switch between vehicles in the pre-play menu system it loads instantly. To be honest however, the 3d models have been removed and in their place you are presented with plain images to select your favourite ride from each class. When you go to actually race, you just pick the type of vehicle you want and the game loads the pre selected favourite from your stored garage. It works very well if you always want the same skin on your vehicle of choice, however if you like to constantly change this will prove actually more complex than before!

The game now supports four player split screen races and amazingly there seems to be no performance issues in relation to frame rate. I was quite surprised especially as the graphics do not seem to be reduced quality to compensate. The draw distance is slightly less, but overall it is certainly a welcome addition. Obviously with the size of the individual screens in four player mode it is quite difficult to play but it’s a fun option I am glad to see the developers adding.

Online play is just as good as before and I didn’t experience any lag issues during unranked or ranked sessions. You can also track your progress on the leaderboards which many of you will like to see however it hasn’t really added anything new to the mix.

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Motorstorm: Pacific Rift is a great follow up to one of the best racing games on the Playstation 3. The load issues are fixed and there are a plethora of tracks to choose from and they are beautiful designed and still feel fresh after long term play. If you are a fan of the original then you could do much worse than to invest in Pacific Rift. Highly Recommended.

Controls are great and the variety in the tracks is stronger than before.
Very impressive overall with some great terrain modelling. Lighting and crashing deserve special mention.
Great soundtrack to add to the atmosphere. All the splintering metal sounds are present when you crash.
Loads of races and events and good multiplayer support enhance the long term value for money.
(Not an Average)
A great follow-up and highly recommended for all you race fans!

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About Author

Stuart Davidson

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